Collaborative music-making

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. A session in the neuro and spinal rehabiliation wards today which saw a mix of playing for and with patients at the bedside and in a day room setting, along with an impromtu performance for staff. It’s always interesting when staff make requests for a particular style, mood or tempo of music, and reminds us that we are there for the benefit of staff as well as patients. Sometimes it’s nice to make music just with the staff but we have to be careful to make sure we aren’t adversely impacting upon the patient’s space and time for music. Today we had time, and space, and it was lovely to give something to the staff for a short time. The session in the day room included a younger patient who we have now seen many times. He has limited movement and vocal control, but often moves his legs and feet along to the music. Staff have informed us that before his trauma and resulting disability he was an active musician. Today, with the support of therapists at the hospital, he was able to play various percussion instruments along with us using his knees. His musical abilities were instantly recognisable, and led us into a performance which he ‘conducted’, sensitively and musically indicating tempo and dynamics through his own movements and sounds. The enjoyment of collaborative, high quality music-making was great to see in everyone involved.

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